"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Sheep Among Wolves Vol. II: Christianity in Iran

Two hours. That's how long it will take for you to watch this life-changing movie about a Great Awakening occurring in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the the fastest growing Christian church in the world today. It is a rapidly-reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominately led by courageous women.  It will be the best two hours you've spent in a long time.  #Iran


RB Kuter said...

Thank you VERY much for pointing out this film, Wade. I was aware that God is moving in amazing ways in Persia but not aware that the fervor for the Gospel has grown to this extent.

While serving in Southeast Asia, an extraordinary thing occurred in one of the national churches we worked closely with. A Persian man came to that resort city, saw the cross displayed on the beachside street where the church was located and searched out the pastor. He told him that he wanted to be a Christian. The pastor called me because he, the pastor, could not speak English and this man could speak none of the national language of this Asian country.

So I met with the man and after hours of discussion he surrendered to Jesus and we baptized him. He returned to Persia and 6 months later returned with another Persian man who also accepted Christ and was baptized and they returned home. After that, with no explanation obvious other than it being the providence of God, one Persian after another showed up at this same church. After the first two men, none of those who followed were connected with those who had come earlier. We were not aware of this phenomenon occurring in any other church in that Asian country. We ended up seeing close to 40 Persian souls saved!

One of the men who came said during the lessons we were teaching regarding the price required to follow Jesus, "I would give my life to follow Jesus." He repeated that to emphasize his sincerity. He returned to Persia after being baptized. A number of Christians were arrested in the area where he lived and he was never seen again. His family searched for him and checked the government lists of those who had been arrested but his name was never posted.

Surely God favors the Persian people. Perhaps due to King Cyrus befriending the Jewish people following his overpowering Babylon?

Wade Burleson said...

RB Kuter,

Wonderful comment. Thanks for the information - and I agree about Persians and God’s favor throughout history!

RB Kuter said...

Since returning to the US we have met some Persian neighbors and seekers with which to interact. I will pray about sharing this video with them as well as some of our other mission-minded friends.

RB Kuter said...

Wade, I have only now gone through the first hour of this VDO. AMAZING! I am taking notes to use in a couple of "discipleship" classes that I lead.

If I learned anything when serving as a missionary it was that you cannot replicate a method that God is using in one place, under those circumstances, and "cookie-cutter" it to apply in all other situations. (IMB tried doing that with the house church movement method that had worked so well in Cambodia, thinking they could simply force it into all situations around the globe. Didn't work.) So I realize it would fail to try to instigate and "Iranian" church movement explosion by mimicking the method God is using there here in the US.

BUT there are so many revolutionary aspects of this church explosion miracle occurring in Iran that we really need to consider injecting into the way we do "church" and see those to be engaged with the Gospel. I hope to adapt it into my personal service to Christ and life. It is so "Christ-driven" and pure. The approach to "discipling unbelievers" prior to their becoming followers (i.e., "the 70" Jesus sent out)/ "new believers seen as having potential as leaders next year"/"55% members and leaders being women yet women's response to rape and sexual assault being with "grace" instead of "bitterness"/not disqualifying followers due to their unattractive behavior (i.e., Samson). WOW!

I believe all churches could use this film as an instrument to use to make adjustments to the bumbling ways we have of doing "church" in the west, although I recognize that it will not be fully replicated until we are in the persecuted church environment they are in; which, as is so aptly pointed out, is imminent and just around the corner.

Thank you again for bringing this to light. Looking forward to hour 2 and more notes being taken.

Rex Ray said...

RB Ruter,

I’m not sure what you meant when you said, “…not disqualifying followers due to their unattractive behavior (i.e., Samson).

One of my heroes of the Bible is Samson. Many preachers when they want a ‘whipping post’ use Samson as an example.

Samson’s life is told by an angel: “…For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.” (Judges 13:7 NLT)

The key to his life is Judges 13:25 “And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” and Judges 14:3-4 “…His father and mother objected…Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?...His father and mother DIDN’T REALIZE THE LORD WAS AT WORK IN THIS, CREATING AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK AGAINST THE PHILISINES, WHO RULED OVER ISRAEL AT THIS TIME."

(Judges 16:27-30 Living) “…the temple was completely filled with people. The five Philistine leaders were there as well as three thousand people in the BALCONIES who were watching Samson and making fun of him…“Let me die with the Philistines,” he prayed…the temple crashed down…So those he killed…were more than those he had killed during his entire lifetime.”

I believe God wanted to show his enemies what one man with God’s strength could do.

RB, you’re so right when you said, “IMB tried doing that with the house church movement method that had worked so well in Cambodia, thinking they could simply force it into all situations around the globe. Didn't work.”

At one time, three missionary couples were in our house with problems. Most thought one couple was on furlough but they had been sent back until they learned to obey orders to plant a church. The husband got off the hook by learning sign-language and joined his wife in that ministry.

Another man, Dennis Folds, (played second base on our church softball team) had been told he could be the interim pastor at Tokyo Baptist Church, but couldn’t be their pastor since the church had chosen the English language for communication. They decided they would listen to God rather than man and accepted the church’s call for him to be their pastor. Years later he told me the IMB decided not to bother him, and I got a team to remodel the church.

The IMB decided it’d be OK for my son and his wife to further their education.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, you would have to watch the video to get their point about not disqualifying someone due to their unattractive behavior. They did use Samonson as an example and I believe it was in the context of Samson being one rough and tumble dude. I mean, can you imagine Samson coming to sit by your bedside when you're dying and holding your hand and praying for you? He was a "wild west" type of hombre, running around with an ass jaw crushing people's skulls in! Their point was that in their country, when an addict comes to them, a prostitute, a suicidal person, they take them and pretty much say, "Let's go to work" and they use them and right away to go out and make disciples.

I was particularly impressed with the role that women are playing in this Kingdom explosion going on. 55% of the members AND leaders are women. We know that is one thing that must have really got Wade's attention, given his passion for opening ministry doors to women. But they have the right outlook and perspective of women being church leaders, in my estimation, at least. These women are humble. The person in that country describing them says some like, "They are quiet, gentle, spirits when in Kingdom work but when they are dealing with the devil and his oppressive domination over people, these women are fierce!"

That's the same situation that I witnessed when serving in Zambia and Thailand. That's why I was supportive of women in leadership roles and even as pastors in situations where the women had that kind of spirit. I never even heard of women's involvement being opposed other than from western missionaries; never the nationals.

Back to IMB, I will always be grateful for the honor and blessing of being able to serve with the Foreign/International Mission Board. Rex Ray, we Southern Baptists had absolutely the best, most efficient, most Word-centered mission organization in the world. The focus was always on winning souls when I was privileged to serve. As you mention and I made mention of, there were times when things were not done in the manner in which they would have been if I had been President (thank God I never had that position to deal with!), but my goodness, it was only the largest, most active Protestant mission organization in the world! And it was extremely innovative and creative and often operated "out of the box" in the sense of breaking out of "the way it has always been done" to search for even more effective ways to expand The Kingdom in the world.

I believe I may have some idea of some things at play in the situation with your missionary friend in Japan. The Japanese language is THE most difficult language in the world to learn, so I'm told. Bemba in Zambia was difficult for sure. Thai is REALLY tough and Chinese probably tougher, but Japanese? No thank you! So there were a number of missionaries assigned to serve in Japan and they just could not grasp the language well enough to function in it.

But FMB/IMB has always resisted the temptation for missionaries to serve as pastors of national churches and for that, I applaud them. We did have some who served on the field as pastors of international churches but even that was frowned upon and most often unacceptable. We have some friends who left IMB to serve in English speaking or international churches in the country where they had originally gone as IMB missionaries and the local church supported them. That's as it should be, in my opinion.

The Board was always careful not to compete with the national church and if the Board began to place its missionaries into positions that could be filled by nationals it was a concern.

I don't know the specific circumstances of the situation in which you referred, so I really can't speak to it. Just thinking and reflecting.